Stanford seeks breast-cancer patients to participate in online-video support group

- By Holly MacCormick

The Sierra-Stanford Partnership is seeking women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to participate in a study of the effectiveness of support groups conducted via online video.

The randomized clinical trial is designed to help researchers determine whether this type of video-mediated support group improves the well-being and quality of life of breast-cancer patients who live in rural areas. The study also aims to determine whether participants consider the approach feasible and satisfactory.

Half of the patients in the study will participate in a virtual support group; the other half, the control group, will not participate in any kind of support group. All will receive a workbook and will complete questionnaires via a secure Internet link. Volunteers for the study must be 21 or older; have been diagnosed with breast cancer within the past five years; and live in one of 27 specified rural California counties, excluding the following cities: Chico, Madera, Redding, Rocklin, Roseville and Yuba City. For more exclusion and inclusion criteria, visit

The Sierra-Stanford Partnership is a collaboration between Joanne Hild and Mary Anne Kreshka of the Sierra Streams Institute — both women are rural-community advocates for breast-cancer patients — and Cheryl Koopman, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Women in rural areas have a hard time finding other breast-cancer survivors,” said Koopman, who is the principal investigator for the study. Many wish to communicate with one another, but they can face a number of challenges — such as snowed-in mountain passes, limited public transportation and high travel costs — simply getting to support groups, which frequently are located in major cities. Moreover, patients are often too fatigued from cancer treatments to make the trip.

Text-based, Internet support groups are already available, but many patients want a more interactive form of communication. “A lot of women tell us they would like to see the support-group leader and one another,” Koopman said. The strength of the video-based support group is that breast-cancer patients can see and interact with one another with minimal cost and effort, she said.

Volunteers interested in participating in this study should contact Lisa Frankel at (530) 265-2442 or send an email to

The Stanford Cancer Institute and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation/Avon Army of Women are providing recruitment assistance for the study, which is funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Grants Program.

Holly MacCormack is a writing intern for the Office of Communication & Public Affairs.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

2023 ISSUE 3

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